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Wednesday, October 05, 2016


I will preface this article with the information that Grand Forks' City Council is determined to sell a downtown city park, purchased with tax dollars, to a "developer" for $1.  The developer will enjoy the use and possession of this property free of taxes for 10 years.  This is, unfortunately, not such an uncommon action with these city governing bodies.  It is wholly unethical and harmful to the taxpayers.  In the case of Arbor Park in Grand Forks, the object of the current development scheme, a large number of other downtown businesses oppose this seizing of the property for the benefit of this development.  This kind of thing goes on every day in our country.  A city government will entice business in with these promises of free facilities or no taxes.  This is not without cost to the other businesses in town, some of them even in competition with the "new" neigbor.  It is simply wrong.  Our forebears knew this was wrong also.  The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution provides against unfair pracitces just such as this.  Please pass this along to others, because I am willing to bet it is happening in your home town, or has happened already, or is going to happen soon, and you should be concerned. 

It seems that the Grand Forks City Council is unaware of the United States Constitution.  I am particularly concerned that they are not following the requirements of the 14th Amendment, Section 1.  That provision states in part that:  “. . . No state . . . shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Inasmuch as the Grand Forks City Council is attempting to sell public property (Arbor Park), acquired at an impressive price after the 1997 flood, for $1.00, they would appear to be in violation of this provision.  What should be of further interest to like-situated commercial property owners in downtown Grand Forks (or any property owners in Grand Forks, for that matter) is that the City plans to forgive property taxes for 10 years.  If the City does this, other property owners should expect like consideration – their taxes should be forgiven for 10 years also, in order for any of this to be legal. 

This should, in turn, concern the City, because taxes not collected for 10 years from everyone thus entitled, would pretty much implode the budget – for the next 10 years, anyway. This is a common scenario:  developers find a way to get subsidies for immigrants that the federal government is bringing in against the wishes of the people.  Then the developers, knowing they are going to cash in big time find a way to “persuade” members of city councils to give them “free” land, wink at the law and leave taxpayers with the bill for these “forgiven” taxes as well as paying for federal boondoggles of unwanted immigration and lavish subsidization of it.  It is the stuff of vast personal fortunes as well as untenable public debt.  These same people claim to be concerned about mounting federal debt while they place themselves on a pedestal of “responsibility”.  This is what is going wrong in America – government picking winners and losers and the taxpayer handed the bill.

The whole transaction calls into question motive.  Why would the members of the City Council do this?  When asked, they tell us that they don’t like their “integrity” called into question.  Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich hated this also.  So did Boss Tweed.  Members of the City Council should welcome the public taking an honest look at their “integrity”.  It was the decision of each to seek public office and of each to assume responsibility for their public actions.  Of course we should question their integrity – and they should welcome our looking at their motives.  They are, after all, PUBLIC servants.  They agreed to this when they put their names on the ballot. 

It has become a sloppy custom for these city governments to think they are above the law, using devices like “community development” to rationalize illegal and inappropriate behavior. What we should all recognize is that this extra-legal use of power is harming us and costing taxpayers a ton of money.  When the City does this, it is giving away something that rightfully belongs to someone else – the taxpayer.


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